Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Funny the Way It Is

I sat aboard a Boeing 767, headed from New York to Atlanta (one of my connecting flights on the journey from Amman to Sacramento). Playing on my iPod was a new single by Dave Matthews Band, entitled Funny the Way It Is. Sitting next to me was a woman heading to Atlanta for her son's medical school graduation – she was reading a magazine with lots of kitchens. Lots of really, really nice kitchens. As I looked at these unbelievable, immaculate, and gaudy kitchens; I began to think about the houses in the South Hebron Hills, no actually, the dwellings in the South Hebron Hills. Most of the dwellings in Tuwani are made from cinder blocks. Yet, as you move away from Tuwani, into the more remote villages, most families live in caves or tents.

I turned to look at the centerfold of a beautiful Maine kitchen. “10 things that make this kitchen great” was the headline on the page. If I were a betting man, I would place a confident wager that this centerfold kitchen costs more than most people in the South Hebron Hills will earn in their lifetime.

With this juxtaposition clashing in my head, my focus came back to the music.

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Lying in the park on a beautiful day, sunshine in the grass and the children play.

Sirens passing, fire engine red, someone's house is burning down, on a day like this.

Funny the way it is, if you think about it, somebody's going hungry and someone else is eating out.

Funny the way it is, one kid walks 10 miles to school, another's dropping out.

Funny the way it is, if you think about it, you hear the laughter as the kids play war.

Funny the way it is, on a soldier's last breath, his baby's being born.”

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I glanced back at the magazine to see the 'Classical Perfection' kitchen. It was quite beautiful, and quite elaborate.

As I reached for my laptop to start writing my thoughts, I realized my own part in this juxtaposition. I am sitting on a large airplane, flying 24 hours across the world to 'relax' and 'take a break' from the frantic pace of life in occupied Palestine. I purchased a plane ticket that most people in the world aren't able to purchase, and then entertained myself with electronic toys that are an extreme luxury, sort of like a centerfold kitchen.

We need to find ways of getting better at this: distribution of resources, seeing and loving our neighbors, and participating in the in-breaking of God's Kingdom. We need to move from a place where we say, “funny the way it is, if you think about it;' to a place where we say, 'the way of the world it is, if you think about it, so how do we live justly?